The closing months of WWII, then, from the British point of view—one little known here, and worth knowing about.

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THE BATTLE FOR THE RHINE

THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE AND THE ARDENNES CAMPAIGN, 1944

A clear-eyed critique, by noted military historian Neillands (Eighth Army, 2004, etc.), of the Allied command and its decisions and indecisions in the last half of 1944.

This is a book of battle, including some of the best-known of the European Theater, including the Bulge and Arnhem Bridge. But the author is more concerned with the high command, and he finds the often-denigrated Bernard Montgomery in better form than many historians—particularly American ones—allow. Neillands observes that Montgomery pressed hard, after the Normandy landing, to be allowed to lead an invasion of Germany from the northwest, advancing through Belgium and Holland and storming the Ruhr Valley. Eisenhower, the supreme Allied commander, countered with a strategy that involved taking both the Ruhr and the Saar at once, a plan that required the Germans to fall back, not regroup, and not fight with their customary ferocity. It was all of a piece, Neillands charges, with Eisenhower’s history of poor decisions and apparent lack of understanding that it was logistics that would win the war—and in 1944, the Allied supply lines were stretched dangerously thin. “Montgomery’s narrow thrust to the Rhine and the Ruhr was logistically possible,” Neillands argues, whereas the broader-front attack was fraught with peril. Still, the American commanders were publicity hounds keenly attuned to the whims of the press and the public at home, and they demanded that the British take the back seat; in the same spirit, the author writes, American histories to this day tend to overplay British failures while ignoring American ones, including Omar Bradley’s failure to support the U.S. infantry landing on D-Day and “the cock-up in command that prevented the 82nd Division from either taking the Nijmegen bridge . . . or avoiding a frontal attack across the Waal in borrowed boats three days later.”

The closing months of WWII, then, from the British point of view—one little known here, and worth knowing about.

Pub Date: May 10, 2007

ISBN: 1-58567-787-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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